Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nature hikes boost brain power

Credit:  Morguefile

Researchers know it's important to stay in touch with natural surroundings. Numerous studies show the benefits of being outdoors or even surrounding ourselves with pictures of nature in the workplace that can increase productivity.

Results of a new study support the idea that getting outdoors - and especially getting rid of technology - can boost cognitive function and even help us with creativity and problem solving.

Increased used of technology, indoor work and media distraction prevents children and adults from visiting parks and other recreational areas that can help brain power by restoring executive function.

For the newest investigation, researchers tested the effects of hiking among 56 men and women. The participants were given a creativity test before the hike that was organized by the Outward Bound school in Alaska, Colorado, Maine and Washington State.

The group was also tested for creativity after spending time hiking in nature with no technology. The finding showed people who went for a hike with no media at their disposal increased creativity and ability to problem solve by fifty-percent.

The researchers aren't certain whether getting rid of technology or hiking was responsible for the changes in brain power found - or both -  but they do know other studies show reconnecting with our natural environment is good for brain health.

Citation: Atchley RA, Strayer DL, Atchley P (2012) Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51474. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051474